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Yen-Tzu Tseng, Hung-Fu Liao, Chih-Yun Yu, Chu-Fan Mo, and Shau-Ping Lin

Appropriate regulation of epigenome within cells is crucial for the determination of cell fate and contributes to the lifelong maintenance of tissue homeostasis. Epigenomic re-establishment during embryonic prospermatogonia development and fine-tune of the epigenetic landscape in postnatal spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are two key processes required for functional male germ cell formation. Repression of re-activated transposons and male germline-specific epigenome establishment occur in prospermatogonia, whereas modulations of the epigenetic landscape is important for SSC self-renewal and differentiation to maintain the stem cell pool and support long-term sperm production. Here, we describe the impact of epigenome-related regulators and small non-coding RNAs as well as the influence of epigenome modifications that result from extrinsic signaling for controlling the decision between self-renewal, differentiation and survival in mouse prospermatogonia and SSCs. This article provides a review of epigenome-related molecules involved in cell fate determination in male germ cells and discusses the intriguing questions that arise from these studies.

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Hung-Fu Liao, Chu-Fan Mo, Shinn-Chih Wu, Dai-Han Cheng, Chih-Yun Yu, Kai-Wei Chang, Tzu-Hao Kao, Chia-Wei Lu, Marina Pinskaya, Antonin Morillon, Shih-Shun Lin, Winston T K Cheng, Déborah Bourc'his, Timothy Bestor, Li-Ying Sung, and Shau-Ping Lin

Nuclear transfer (NT) is a technique used to investigate the development and reprogramming potential of a single cell. DNA methyltransferase-3-like, which has been characterized as a repressive transcriptional regulator, is expressed in naturally fertilized egg and morula/blastocyst at pre-implantation stages. In this study, we demonstrate that the use of Dnmt3l-knockout (Dnmt3l-KO) donor cells in combination with Trichostatin A treatment improved the developmental efficiency and quality of the cloned embryos. Compared with the WT group, Dnmt3l-KO donor cell-derived cloned embryos exhibited increased cell numbers as well as restricted OCT4 expression in the inner cell mass (ICM) and silencing of transposable elements at the blastocyst stage. In addition, our results indicate that zygotic Dnmt3l is dispensable for cloned embryo development at pre-implantation stages. In Dnmt3l-KO mouse embryonic fibroblasts, we observed reduced nuclear localization of HDAC1, increased levels of the active histone mark H3K27ac and decreased accumulation of the repressive histone marks H3K27me3 and H3K9me3, suggesting that Dnmt3l-KO donor cells may offer a more permissive epigenetic state that is beneficial for NT reprogramming.